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Father knows fire



“We smoke all our meats low and slow,” owner Steve Bryan said. “Brisket stays in for 14 hours.”

He starts with a dry spice rub on the beef before roasting at a low, wood-fired temperature for a long time. The result: remarkably good barbecue.

It’s a simple, but time-consuming formula that he’s perfected over many years. Big Daddy’s is a family-run operation, and all four employees are relatives. A handwritten sign by the menu board advised, “Place order at counter, have a seat. We’ll bring it out to ya.”

The dining-room decor is a mini-museum of manly Americana. One wall is all automobile hubcaps and old license plates. There’s a large group of snapshots with burly bikers and their babes on Harleys. A framed, color glossy photo of Elvis impersonator Travis Ledoyt is autographed with the message “Big Daddy’s — best pulled pork I ever ate!” The “Beat Texas” banner on the wall has a real steer skull with horns hanging upside down over it.

right, Owner Steve Bryan and his mother, Debby Morris

Big Daddy’s ambience is quaint and friendly; Hank Williams Sr. was singing plaintively in the background.

“We’re old-fashioned, old-school and try to keep everything just like family around here,” Bryan said. “Treat everybody nice and do a good job is what we’re all about.”

Big Daddy’s has plenty of local regular customers, along with folks who avoid the interstate by traveling the two-lane highway that runs alongside it.

Besides brisket and ribs, Big Daddy’s
smokes turkey, chicken, pork loin, bologna, Polish sausage and hot
links. A three-meat combo dinner ($13.50) includes two side orders and
white bread. Sides are made in-house and its potato salad with skin-on
spuds and lots of celery seed is scrumptious. Baked beans have plenty of
brown-sugar goodness and there’s pintos and green beans, too.

slaw, fried okra, corn on the cob and curly fries are traditional
barbecue sides, but deviled eggs were a pleasant surprise.

range from $4.99 to $7.50 and include one side. The Smokehouse burger
($5.99) is topped with a hot link. Steve’s Favorite ($6.25) is a brisket
sandwich garnished with slaw. The Willy ($6.75) pairs sliced pork and
slaw topped with a hot link.

Daddy’s might give vegans the willies, but there is a chef salad
($6.25) — hold the turkey or chicken — not to mention a loaded baked
potato ($5.99), Smokehouse nachos ($5.25) or loaded fries ($4.99).

Daddy’s brisket has an exceptional mahogany-colored crust that comes
from the just right amount of charring and smoke. The result is hearty,
hickory-flavored magic roasted right into a big, lean beef brisket.

Ribs are done perfectly, too, but boast more fatty succulence that makes them simply irresistible.

“Brisket and ribs are our biggest sellers,” Bryan said. “We’re big beef eaters around here.”

Daddy’s house barbecue sauce is deep crimson, flecked with an abundance
of black pepper. Tomato-based with a winning blend of vinegar tang and
sweetness, it complements the lean brisket well. These juicy ribs don’t
need any sauce, although mild and hot versions are offered.

Ledoyt’s scrawled testimony probably
wasn’t exaggeration, because the pulled pork is among the menu’s
superstars. It’s moist, flavorful and fork-tender. As with everything we
tried, it had been carefully prepared and was served in generous

“That’s a good choice,” said Bryan’s mom, Debby Morris.

the meats, including pulled pork ($9.99), are sold by the pound. A slab
of ribs is $22.50. Big Daddy’s is available for catering. There’s no
bar, but you can get tall-boy cans of beer ($3.25) and sweet tea
($1.49), along with soft drinks ($2.09).

Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive
aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or
service when appropriate.

Photo by Mark Hancock

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